Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Review: "In Search of Greener Grass" by Graham Field

"In Search of Greener Grass"
Independent overland travel can be as engaging or remote as the traveler wants it to be. Graham Field, the author of 'In Search of Greener Grass', will engage you in more detail than you thought possible and will takes you on a journey from the UK to Mongolia and finally onto Russia. 
Motorbikes are a lifestyle; it’s not just transport, it’s easy to let them become a way of life.
Graham Field's book can certainly be described as the overland life in full. His style of writing - in first person - flows at such a pace that you are left entwined in his thoughts, his conversations and his travels. My mind was buzzing with an overload of information which left me pondering how the author manages to gather and retain all the information! His mind must be buzzing, if mine was buzzing whilst reading the book.
‘Buy time, not equipment’ was one of the single best lines of advice I read during those months.

Unusual is the fact that the book is written in first person - and I think it works well as it contains nuggets of thoughts, and conversations all related to the author and his surroundings. 
Wanderlust: an itch that needs scratching. No itch ever got better by being scratched, just inflamed.

The book is a good insight into overland travel and the daily adventure of independent travel.  Don't expect a book that details the mechnicals of a KLR motorcycle (I had to Google the bike to find out more), or a book that simple reads like a traditional travelogue.  I enjoyed the fact that the author did not approach the book in a stereotypical way, rather embracing the travel, the people and his own thoughts.   
Waving has to be my favourite non-communicative recognition. Better than a friend request on Facebook without a message attached. This is real. Instant and genuine and being the short-attention-span commitment-phobe that I am, its intimacy and immediacy is perfect for me.

I read the book on my Kindle and used the opportunity to share a number of interesting paragraphs.  Here are a few that stood out:
People are generally at their best when they travel, not concerned with work and the other distractions and obligations of a home life. I don’t think these friendships that are born on the road are shallow at all; they may be transitory but they are no less sincere for that.
One aspect about the author which stood out, was his desire and boldness to engage with the locals in each country he traveled through.  Independent overland travel can be very independent, which often leads to limited people interaction outside of buying fuel and food and looking for accommodation.  The author goes beyond that...
Even without the photo I will never forget that old man on his horse; his face had the mystique of Mona Lisa’s smile. I couldn’t read his eyes, I couldn’t gauge his mood. I didn’t know his intensions. I failed to be who I am because I felt so out of my depth. If I could have been me, I would have been something to him. He didn’t say anything and he didn’t stay long. He was a product of his environment, a proud man, who knew what he needed to and his understanding of me was not a necessity in his world.
Motorcycle travel does intrigue me as I have spent all my time tucked up in a 4x4 whilst traveling, and with a traveling companion.  I often wonder how motorcyclists manage the pure independence, especially when camping in a remote spot.  The author reveals it's not always a comfortable experience:
It’s always scary camping alone. I have full phone signal so send a few texts. The forest is so quiet that when there is a noise it makes me jump. I have put my phone on silent. I do it every night because I’m eight hours ahead of the UK now. When it lights up with a reply even that makes me jump. Oh God, I’m not going to sleep tonight am I? 
In summary, I highly recommend purchasing a copy and taking the time to read Graham's book.  Persevere through the early chapters and soon you will be filled with Graham's thoughts and observations.  The book certainly left me wanting more and appreciating his style of travel and engaging approach.